Letting Go of Guilt

Letting Go of Guilt

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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Clinging to our past is drenching, isn’t it? It keeps us from experiencing the fullness of the present.

Sometimes we just need to let go.

Perhaps it’s pride from past successes, insecurities that we’ve allowed to define us, pain from hurtful experiences, or crippling guilt from our mistakes.

Is there anything from your past that you need to let go of?

I’d like to share a little bit of my personal story with you, and why I am learning to let go of the guilt and shame from my past. 

First, let’s consider the following scriptures.

“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:22-23)

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 17-19a)

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

 

There is beauty in the letting go of our past. 

The source of this beauty is God and his love for us, his chosen and dearly loved children. In his great grace, he forgives our sins and offers us a life filled with hope and assurance in what truly matters.

He wants us to let go.

 

My girls and I often walk in our local arboretum. Recently we’ve been enjoying the changing leaves and crisp autumn air.

I believe it reflects God’s grace. He paints the trees such glorious colors as they prepare to let go of their leaves. They let go of their leaves in order to sustain themselves through the winter, and so that they will be able to produce new life. I’ve been pondering this and reflecting on my own story, particularly a chapter I haven’t been able to turn the page on. 

 

During one of our evening walks, I watched my daughters giggle and play. I soaked in the sweet thoughts my five year old was sharing with me. I gave recognition to the value and blessings in this season of my life, and I knew it was time.

It was time to let go.

If I was going to flourish in the here and now then I needed to let go of the old parts of my story that left me feeling insignificant, stuck, and unfit for kingdom work.  I wanted to embrace the new chapter God was writing.

The specifics of my guilt aren’t really that important. In our selfishness, we all give way to sin. We all have reason for guilt. 

Dwelling on our past or how we thought life was supposed to be is a useless waste of energy. We can’t go back and do things differently. We can however, look to our past and see how God has worked in our life. We can remember lessons learned. We can consider where God’s brought us, and look for ways to bring him glory here, in our current circumstances.

We can’t grow in the past, but if we let go of what’s holding us there we can grow in the present.

 

It’s easier said than done. Letting go of guilt is especially difficult when we are living in the consequences of our sin.

There may be other people involved, you might be dealing with mental health issues, regular health issues, or you might have suffered loss. You might have a cost to pay.

Through this, it’s important to keep an eternal perspective.

Yes, we have to deal with the results of our actions, but we don’t have to wear the shame as our label.

We can let go and grow!

Doesn’t that sound better than clinging to our past mistakes, and wallowing in our guilt?

Which response will cause us to be more effective for the Kingdom?

Life is certainly filled with hills and valleys and some people face more difficult times than others. These chapters are hard, but even in them we can serve the Lord.

The purpose of bringing God glory exists in all of our chapters, not just the easier ones.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

 

 

“Letting go” isn’t about forgetting all of our bad memories or ignoring what other people think about us.

It’s not even about feeling happy. It’s about letting go of our sin and guilt, experiencing the fullness of our salvation in Jesus Christ so that we might be fruitful. 

So how do you do this?

Well, I don’t have all of the answers for you, but I know a good place to start. Fill your heart and mind with scriptures that speak of the assurance of your salvation. The above scriptures are wonderful ones to meditate on and memorize if you are struggling to release your guilty past. 

Here is the truth, friend:

If you have accepted salvation in Jesus then God intends for you to live with joy and freedom.  Without Christ we were headed toward death, but with him we are forgiven of sins, made clean, and headed toward heaven!

So let go of your sin and guilt, and live in the light of your eternity!

 

 

 

**

If you have not received salvation in Jesus and you would like to know more about God’s life changing grace then please reach out to our Creating a Great Day team. It would be our privilege to talk about the Gospel with you. 🙂

 

Let Me Live That I May Praise You

Let Me Live That I May Praise You

April E

I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Christian University. Right after earning my degree in Music Education I moved to Germany to do mission work for 5 years. During those 5 years, I married my husband and we eventually became parents to our spunky daughter! We settled back in Oklahoma and added an energetic son to our family! I am now a stay-at-home mom who is still very passionate about mission work, Germany, singing, family, and most of all, my relationship with God.
April E

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Transitions: Let Me Live That I May Praise You

One thing I think all of us have in common at some point in our lives is going through some sort of transition. Whether big or small, transitions can be hard. But life is full of them and full of ups and downs as well.

God Changed My Heart

I feel like I have also had many transitions in my life.

In college, I was sure that I wanted to teach music and live in Oklahoma the rest of my life.

God surprisingly changed my heart and led me to Germany. I spent 5 years living in Germany and serving as a missionary. It was my full time job.

At the end of the 5 years, we decided it was time to move back to Oklahoma and see what God had in store for us here. That transition was probably one of the most difficult transitions I have been through, but I don’t regret any of the experiences I had through it all.

The Struggles

One aspect of that transition that was difficult was the fact that I had been a full time missionary, whose job was to spread the Good News as much as possible on a daily basis. Coming to Oklahoma, I had to struggle with finding my identity and my “job title”.

Here, I was, a stay-at-home Mom and wife.

I didn’t feel like I had a specific task, besides taking care of my family, which I know is a very important task.

I felt like something was missing, though.

Then, I came to the realization that even though my official title was not “Missionary” anymore, I was still a child of God and my task on this earth was to still be a missionary wherever I was.

My name doesn’t have to be on a church bulletin under the list of Missionaries, to be a Missionary.  

Same Passion, Different Location

My passion was still the same… to spread the love of God and teach the Good News as much as possible on a daily basis. It may look different than it did when I lived in Germany, but every day I have to find ways to share that love with others.

Fulling Our Passion Purpose

We as Christians, all have the same title as Missionary.

We are all here on this earth for a reason. Our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus are, and should always be, our first love.

No matter what our professional titles may be, or no matter what transitions we may be going through, the constant is our love for God and hopefully our passion to share that with others.

No matter what job or responsibilities we have to take care of, our greatest responsibility is to share our love of God with others.

Psalms: That I may Praise You

Let’s look at the Psalms and talk more about this passion for God and how we can live it out.

In Psalm 119:169, I feel like the author is praying for God to help them grow that passion and to live it out.

169 May my cry come before you, Lord;
    give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you;
    deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
    for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
    for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me,
    for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, Lord,
    and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
    and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

Our Passion in Perspective

I just love that passage in Psalms. It really puts the phrase being passionate about our relationship with God into perspective.

Some of the words that are used could help us understand how we can be passionate about our relationship with God too.

Psalm 119:169 – Crying Out

In verse 169, the author cries out to God. In any situation, whether difficult or crying out with praise for the good things He does for us, crying out is a beautiful thing. Just like in our prayer lives and being in His presence, we should communicate our feelings to Him.

I still remember a good friend of mine sharing a Psalm with me and telling me it was ok to tell God how I felt, even in deep sadness. He showed me the examples that are written in the Psalms and how open and honest David was about his feelings.

God wants us to openly communicate with Him. It can bring us closer to Him.

Psalm 119:169 – Give Me Understanding

The second part of verse 169 says, “give me understanding.” Understanding His word, and especially searching for understanding of His word by studying it, is another way to show our passion.

How can we understand God better without being in His word and studying and trying to understand His words better?

Psalm 119:170 – Supplication

Verse 170 uses the word supplication. The definition of supplication is the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly. Similar to crying out to Him, is being in supplication.

Have you ever had a time in your life, when you were on your knees, begging for God to help you? I have, and although it was not the happiest point in my life, I never have felt closer to God, than when I was in supplication to Him, asking Him to help me in that time in my life.

Going through that was a bonding experience with God. I felt his presence at my darkest hour.

Psalm 1119:171 – Overflow with Praise

Verse 171 says, “May my lips overflow with praise.” How much do we talk about our love of God in our everyday lives?

I know at times I’m guilty of staying quiet about it, especially around others that I know don’t share my beliefs. Is that what we are supposed to do?

I know we have to use discernment in regards to talking about our faith with others. On one hand, we don’t want to bombard someone who is already cynical or negative about God or our beliefs. We could possibly cause them to put up more barriers if we’re too pushy.

Also, for someone who doesn’t even know God, it may seem like a foreign language to them. I know how frustrating and discouraging that can be because of my experience in Germany. I remember wanting nothing more than to take part in a conversation, but instead just sitting there silently, trying to understand what is being said.

Let’s also think about how people who don’t know God might feel if we were to seemingly start to speak another language. There are small ways we can let our faith be known, without putting any pressures on others or making them feel frustrated.

If we can share about how we believe God helped us through something, could it possibly pique their interest?

We can’t control if someone believes that God truly did help us, but if we show how certain we are, is that not planting the seed?

Maybe just showing our sincere faith is what they need to see in order to question their own faith.

Hopefully, we can find small ways to express our praise to God and let others know about our faith.

Gratefulness

Also, being genuinely grateful and telling God how thankful we are for the things He has done for us is so important. We need to tell Him how much we love and appreciate Him.

If you’re a parent, you know the amazing feeling you get when your child sees the many sacrifices you make for them and then thank you for it. There have been times when I’ve gone out of my way to do something for my kids, only to be frustrated that I did them, because it either didn’t end with good behavior from them or they didn’t thank me for the lengths I went to. But when they see my efforts and thank me with grateful hearts, it really warms my heart and makes me so happy to see their appreciation.

I know I shouldn’t always expect appreciation, but it sure does feel good when I get it. I think God must feel the same way when we turn to Him and thank Him for the things He does for us!

Psalm 146:2 says,

“I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” I want my lips to overflow with praise and I hope we can also find the many positive things that God does and thank Him for it!”

Psalm 119:172 – Sing Your Word

Verse 172 says that we “sing of your word.” As some of you know, music is very important to me. I love singing and I feel so much closer to God when I can be singing and worshiping Him. There is something special about singing praises to our Savior.

I love the verse Psalm 84:4 that says,

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!”

What joy God must feel to hear His beloved children singing praises to Him! I can’t wait to sing in heaven someday with all of God’s children! I can’t even imagine how wonderful that will be!

Psalms 119:173 – Choosing God’s Precepts

Verse 173 says that I have chosen your precepts (commandments/ instructions). To choose something isn’t just to mentally decide on something, but it also means to actively choose it by following the precepts or commands and instructions.

If we don’t follow what God instructs us to do, how can we be close to Him or show our passion for Him to others?

It looks a little hypocritical if we say one thing, but do another, doesn’t it?

I know I’m not perfect and do and say things I regret all the time, but if I’m not constantly trying to correct myself and better myself to be more like Christ, then I’m not any better than the Pharisees were during the time of Jesus’ life.

In Matthew 15, the Pharisees asked Jesus why the disciples broke the tradition of the elders. The disciples didn’t wash their hands when they ate. Jesus’ answer to them was basically, “why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”

In verses 7-9, Jesus calls them hypocrites and quotes Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

It is important that our beliefs and choices are lived out through our actions and that our hearts are fully invested in God’s instructions.

Psalm 119:174 – Delighting

Verse 174 says that “I long for your salvation and your law is my delight.” This makes me think of Psalm 42:1-2.

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Have you ever longed to see someone? Maybe your spouse, significant other, family member or best friend?

Maybe it’s been awhile or you are far away? You can’t wait to talk to them or see them and hug them.

Do we feel this same longing to spend time with God? Are we excited to get to have some quiet time in prayer and stillness with Him?

Sometimes, I forget that is the kind of longing He wants us to have in our relationship with Him. I hope that I can grow in that longing and delight in my Savior every day.

Psalms 119: 175 – Live that I may Praise you

Verse 175 is probably my favorite verse. “Let me live that I may praise you.” I pray that my whole life can be praise for God and I hope that I can always re-evaluate my life to see if that is how I’m living.

Psalm 150:6 says,

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

Every single one of us were created with God’s breath so that we could live with Him and for Him and praise Him!

Colossions 3:17 says,

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Every moment of our lives should be lived TO and FOR Him, who has done so much for us! I love the words in the hymn “O Sacred Head” that say, “Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love for Thee.”

Psalms 119:176 – We Have Strayed

Verse 176 says we have strayed like a lost sheep. We also need to realize our faults and failures and ask God to forgive us and to please continue searching for us and bringing us back to the fold.

We need our Savior and we must realize that need.

Also, we can’t forget His commands. We may temporarily forget and make mistakes, but we need these to be in our hearts and minds and never permanently forgotten. We should continually remind ourselves of these commandments.

I hope this is a helpful reminder to always be passionate about our faith in relationship in Christ!

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank you so much for your goodness, your faithfulness and your love. May you help us to be unified together through your Spirit and may we all seek you every day.

We want to be passionate about you in all that we do and say every day. Help us to rekindle our passion for you and to spread it to others.

It’s in Jesus’ Holy name that we pray, Amen.

More Faith Boosting Posts…

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day

Overwhelmed? Look to God!

Take a Tip from St. Nick

Celebrate a Festival that Jesus Celebrated this Christmas Season!

Celebrate a Festival that Jesus Celebrated this Christmas Season!

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Celebrating a Festival Jesus Celebrated this Christmas Season

Never in my wildest dreams did I think our family would celebrate Hanukkah!  Would you?  I grew up enjoying everything Christmas and never gave Hanukkah a second thought.  It was a Jewish holiday and so it didn’t fit, or so I thought!

I’m actually really ashamed to admit that all I ever knew about Hanukkah was that it had to do with lighting candles, a weird top called a dreidel, and it was filled “eight crazy nights” according to Adam Sandler.  Yes, sad that most of my knowledge came from this song!

But what I found is that Hanukkah is really all about celebrating God’s miraculous ways and sharing it with each generation.  

 

Then I learned that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.

It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.

John 10:22 (New Living Translation)

What!?!  Did you know that?  I swear I’ve read that passage a million times and never realized Jesus was ever involved in Hanukkah, not until I learned another name for it was the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Dedication.  It’s also known as the Festival of Lights, Chanukah, and Chanukiah.  It’s amazing once I started to learn about Jewish history and customs how the New Testament came alive even more, but that’s another post.

Once I learned these facts, my family and I couldn’t wait to celebrate Hanukkah.  We love celebrating our Lord and Savior and couldn’t believe that Jesus celebrated it too!

When we started celebrating Hanukkah, our children were 6, 5, 3, and just over 1.  I did not know what to expect from them but wanted them to be involved so we found a short book called The Story of Hanukkah to read about the history of what led up to the re-dedication of the temple and why it is celebrated.

The Story of Hanukkah

If you don’t have time to get this book, here are some great videos to show that give a good explanation.

A short 2-minute video about Hanukkah for kids.

A more detailed explanation from a Messianic Jewish perspective (Jews who believe Christ is Lord). 

 

History of Hanukkah

In a nutshell, the Israelites were under Greek rule.  Under Antiochus III, they were allowed to worship God as they always had and lived in peace, but once he died and his son Antiochus IV took over, things changed for the worse.  The Israelites were forbidden to worship their God upon penalty of death.  The holy books were destroyed and the Israelites were commanded to worship the Greek gods that had been placed in the confiscated temple!  Can you imagine!?!

An old priest named Mattathias led the people in a revolt, which turned into a war.  Even when he died, his sons–especially one in particular named Judah–carried on the fight for religious freedom and miraculously thwarted the great Greek army.  Judah was nicknamed Maccabee, meaning hammer, and all those who fought with him were referred to as the Maccabees.

But that wasn’t the only miracle.  Once the Israelites won the battle against the Greeks, they returned and started to restore the temple.  They rededicated the temple to God and lit the Menorah. As commanded by Moses, once lit it was never supposed to be allowed to go out.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it turned out they only had enough olive oil for one night and the process to make more would take at least eight days. Even though they only had enough oil for one night, God kept the Menorah lit those entire eight days and nights!  So every year since then, Jews have celebrated this miracle.

 

The symbolism to Christ in Hanukkah

The Shamash Candle means The Servant Candle.

The Servant Candle is the one that lights all the other candles.  This is the perfect parallel to Christ.  He is the light of the world and calls us to shine his light too!  We get our light from him!

 

When and How We Celebrate Hanukkah!

The Hanukkah celebration starts every year on the 25th of Kislev, which is a different time every year on our calendar.  In 2018, it begins on the evening of December 2nd and will end on the evening of December 10th.  Isn’t that exciting!  We can literally kickoff this Holiday season by celebrating a festival that Jesus, himself, celebrated!  I’m ecstatic!

This is how we added Hanukkah to our Christmas routine very simply. (Hint: It’s not overwhelming but one of the most peaceful things we have every done.)

Our 1st HanukkahCelebrationEvery night around dusk, we would bring the kids into the living room by turning on this hilarious song called Candlelight by The Maccabeats.

After dancing and laughing to this song a few times, we would turn off the lights and light the servant candle.  Then depending on the day we would light the corresponding number of candles, letting the kids take turns lighting the candles.  (The first day, we lit one candle.  The second day, we lit two, and so on.)  As we lit the candles we recited the blessing then talked about how Jesus is the light of the world and we are called to be his lights too.

After lighting the candles, the first couple of nights we read through the book mentioned above, then prayed and sang some songs.

The following nights we asked the kids why we were celebrating Hanukkah and reviewed the story, then we would talk about some of our favorite miracles from the Bible and even the miracles our Lord has done in our own lives.  We usually spent about an hour together focusing this way on God’s goodness, singing, and worshiping together.

It was one of the most peaceful, relaxing, joyful times we have had during the Christmas season! This year, when I pulled out the menorah, our children asked if they could light the candles immediately! I was thrilled!

Over the years we added a few more fun things, but didn’t want to miss the focus.  

(This post contains affiliate links.)

For dinner together, we have tried some of the fried foods, which are the typical celebratory foods.  They eat a lot of foods fried in olive oil to commemorate how long the olive oil lasted.

Spin the Dreidel

Here are a few recipes:

Latkes (fried hash brown pancakes) And just in case you need some inspiration in song form check out this video!

Sufganiyot (small doughnuts)

During our play time, we also play spin the dreidel.

We could add a lot of extras in there.  Pinterest is full of ideas, but truly, I loved how we focused on God’s miraculous ways. We didn’t get overwhelmed by adding one more thing to our already packed schedule.  Like I mentioned before, it was actually the perfect resting time…by celebrating Hanukkah we were resting and basking in God’s goodness.  What could be better than that during a season where we are wanting to focus all our attention on the miracle of Christ?

Have you celebrated Hanukkah?

What are some of your traditions?

May the warmth and glow of each candle remind you that your life and the courage you take in it by trusting our amazing Lord shines brightly to all around it!

Thy Will Be Done…if I’m comfortable

Thy Will Be Done…if I’m comfortable

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Thy will be done.  Saying those words produces strong feelings in me.  What about you?  Are the words comforting? Do they make you ready to run?  For me, it is both comforting and alarming.  It makes me wonder what is about to happen, but also gets me excited to see what God is going to do.

Thy Will Be Done: How can this be both comforting and alarming?

From my own personal life experience, I’ve learned that when God calls, He typically starts to lead me in a way that changes my world and throws me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve always considered myself a risk taker BUT God’s idea of risk is much greater than mine and yet, it is the safest thing of all.  Because His ways are not our ways, He calls us to something more than this world has to offer.  There have been many times that He has called me away from my wants and desires even when I thought they were based on His leading.

Fighting God’s Will in South America

I’ve seen God test my willingness to follow His lead.  Maybe in actuality, I was the one testing God to see if I could conform His ways to my will instead of the other way around.

As a freshman in college, I was preparing to go on my first official mission trip.  Every week our group of 4 people would meet for training and learn how to encourage open conversation and plant seeds of hope in the lives of others.  We were raising funds and praying over the location we were destined to go.  Four months into raising funds, we learned that our plans were being changed.  Now instead of going to Argentina, which was the ONLY place I agreed to go to in South America, we were told we would be going to a town in Venezuela that was 90 miles from the Colombian border.

I pitched a fit or maybe more truthfully, I refused to go.  I went to the office and stated how we had planned to go to Argentina.  This was the only country I felt comfortable going to and we needed to get back to that place instead of wherever they were now sending us.  I didn’t pray for understanding or for God to soften my heart on this.  Instead, I dug my feet in and tried to fight to go to where I felt comfortable.  God had different plans.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

His ways are not our ways.

God knew I would never willingly choose to go to Venezuela, but He put me on a mission team destined for that very place–a place I soon fell in love with. I came to love Venezuela and it’s people so much that I returned the following summer.

God had big plans. He had been using teams for years to plant seeds in the hearts of people in Merida, Venezuela. That summer, we were able to continue planting seeds, as well as witnessing several dedicating their lives to Christ.  It was thrilling! I got to see Jesus alive and well in the hearts of fellow brothers and sisters.  The passion for Jesus was contagious and I came back living more impassioned for Christ than I ever had before.

Fighting God’s will in America

Years later, after my husband and I had “settled” into our cozy suburban neighborhood and started our family, God once again decided to change our lives.  Looking back now, He called us to something earlier, but we were just to caught up in what we wanted to truly listen to what He wanted.

When we started changing how we prayed and asked God to lead us instead of just blessing whatever plan we had, He took our lives in a completely different direction.  I’ve mentioned it before so I won’t go into details again but I will say that it was this time that God took us away from many of our physical “treasures.” He asked us to treasure Him more than our things. My perspective has definitely changed.  Now, I look around at the things we own and feel as though I am ready to walk away from it all, if that is what God calls us to do.

My Realization

Between Venezuela and many other times when I decided to fight God’s will (did I mention I’m stubborn?), I realized something about myself:

I was determined to love God with all my heart and serve him with all I had, as long as I was comfortable.  

It felt like I’d been sucker punched the moment I realized this truth.  God doesn’t want to live in our confined boxes and He definitely doesn’t want us to.  We can’t experience God’s amazing ways when we aren’t willing to walk in His splendor.

Lord teach us…

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
– Psalm 143:10

I was determined to love God with all my heart and serve Him with all I had

Will their be times of pain and discomfort?

YES! We can see this truth throughout the Bible.  Every single person who followed God’s leading in their life had some form of discomfort.  Why would we think that our lives should be any different?  Do we really think that we deserve the nice house, the nice cars and all are nice things?  Are we willing to give them up if called?  If we struggle with answering “yes” to this question, then we may be finding ourselves only living for God as long as we are comfortable.  This is a very dangerous place to be.  It’s a place that Satan can work to encourage us never to leave.

(Now, am I not saying just because we have a nice house, a nice car, and nice things that we are not living for God?  NOT AT ALL!  But I am saying if we are putting those things before Christ, even if we don’t realize it, then we really need to question, if we are living for God or living for ourselves?)

We do not need to be afraid of any pain or discomfort that will come when we are walking in God’s will! God will give us a perfect peace when we follow Him.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Thy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

Every time I hear this song, Thy Will, on the radio, I can’t help but pray that I will allow my comfort zone to fade away so that God’s will is also fully my will no matter what the cost.

Are you ready to make that same commitment?  

Don’t wait any longer to see God’s awesome power in your life!

 

Thy Will Be Done pinterest
The Bouquet of God and His People

The Bouquet of God and His People

Amy B

God has blessed us with a great big world, and I try to go see it whenever I can!Admittedly, I have an unusual life where I get to teach what I love 8-9 months out of the year and then go travel and serve the Kingdom in my other home the rest of the time:Edmond, Oklahoma and Vienna, Austria. A lot of what I write revolves around what God teaches me through those experiences and I invite you to "travel" with me in those times! Basically, I want to be Rick Steves (the travel writer) and Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) when I grow up! :)

I have a bunch of college "kids" I call my own, 2 dogs named Abby and McGee (yes, I love NCIS) andI get to be "the cool aunt" to 2 beautiful nieces and 3 handsome nephews.They make great play dates!

Given the opportunity, I want to encourage people when I can and remind them of the power of God in their life...or help them find Him in different ways.Fair warning:I'll ask you the tough questions!I treasure deep relationships - especially ones that will allow for "iron sharpening iron."

I love being outside, and I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone whenever possible to soak up God's creation! Actually, I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone in general...as the phrase goes: "Wherever you are, be all there", and if you are where I am, then I'm going to be all there!

I'm flawed, but saved by grace and learning daily to be loved by God.I'm thankful for the times he lets me wrestle with him because he knows my heart of hearts, and I'm ok with my hip being messed up (Genesis 32: 24-26) because growth comes from it.I encourage you to join me in the journey!

Love well...breathe deep....show mercy!
Amy B

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When you look at this bouquet, some might see flowers, some might see weeds, but I just see God and his people.

These flowers came from one of my favorite places on earth: Schwarzwaldeckhaus. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?! Sitting on top of a mountain in the Austrian Alps is a three-story cabin that serves as a retreat center for youth camps, church retreats, and other fellowship times. It is a place that has been very near and dear to my heart for many years.

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Because the house sits on top of a mountain, the views are breathtaking, the cows are entertaining, the sunsets are exquisite, and the stars are indescribable.  The quiet is deafening, but the time there–no matter how it is spent, alone or with others–is refreshing.  It truly is a place to breathe in God and all that he creates for us to enjoy. If God were to have an earthly throne room, I think it would be here, on this mountain top.

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A while ago, I had the honor of taking two dear friends, a son and his “seasoned” mom, up to the house (haus, in German).  For one, it was a time to reminisce about her experiences from her younger days; for the other, it was his first view of the mountains. Like many before them, their reaction was similar to most–awe.

She related memories of being at the haus with college students and how they would walk the mountain trails, breathing in the clean air, and the soul-refreshing moments with God and each other.  But one story in particular caught my attention.  On one of her early morning walks, she decided to pick one flower, and only ONE, of each kind she found growing on the mountain.  By the time she got back to the haus, she had a large bouquet of flowers in her hands.  The week after their visit, I was blessed with time on the mountain by myself (well, and a black lab named Cara) so I decided I was going to test her story myself.  You know what I found? The Church.  I found God.

Cara and I started our walk down the mountain trail and I began to do the same thing my seasoned friend had done those many years before.  I picked one flower of every kind I could find. It was amazing to notice how many different kinds there were.  Although I walked only twenty minutes away from the haus, my hand was getting full of flowers so I decided to turn around and walk back.

I began to really admire all of the variations in my hand: the diverse, rich, and beautiful colors, the different shapes and sizes, and the beautiful intricacies of God’s designs.  It was fascinating!

As I walked back towards the haus, I found other flowers I hadn’t noticed before because my perspective had changed.  And, when I started to REALLY notice ones I had never seen up there before, it made me want to look even deeper into the fields of flowers.  It became a source of joy and reflection of how powerful God’s hands are and the creativity in his creation.

But then, I realized I was putting God in a box by even saying he was “creative”…that was almost too “human” of a word to describe him.  It’s cool to know that he didn’t really have to “think” about his designs–he just spoke the words, and they were!  Admittedly, the designer in me loves to think of God, sitting in front of an enormous marker board, dreaming up every flower imaginable.   A storyboard for every season, every climate, every country.

And, as random as this is, I loved that they all had one thing in common–a green stem.IMG_8707

Cara and I returned to the haus with our bouquet of flowers.  I was curious to see how many different kinds there were, so I laid them all out on the kitchen counter.  There were thirty different kinds of flowers, some with many similarities between them, but they were all still different.

 

After arranging them into a bouquet, I put them in water and enjoyed them the rest of the week…and what God was teaching me.

Faith-Building Moments

I’m sure you can extract your own faith-building moments from the story, but these were some of the things God spoke to me about:

The Lord has no equal and all that he has made is good!

Isaiah 40:14 and 26 says, “Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?  Does he need instruction about what is good? Look up into the heavens.  Who created all the stars?  He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name.  Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing!”

You could say the same thing about the flowers…he created all of them, they all have a name, and they were created exactly for where they belong, and even for the proper season to flourish in.

Now compare that to God’s people and his church!  We are all created differently, each of us with our own particular details and intricacies given to us by God, and that is what makes us unique.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it!” Psalm 139: 14.

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God has placed us where we need to be to bring him the most glory.

John 17:4 says, “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

And while he may only put us where we need to be for a season, his ways are always higher.

“Who knows if perhaps you were made for just such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14).

 

God doesn’t call us to understand the season, he calls us to be faithful!

1 Peter 5:12 encourages us, “…what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you.  Stand firm in this grace.”

And another favorite of mine:  “Now if you will obey me and keep my commands, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19:5)

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Perspective is also beneficial as God’s people

We all come from different situations and life stories. Yes, they make up a part of who we are–or at least who we were–but looking at people through eyes of love and God’s grace allows us to see the embraceable differences we have that make up the body of Christ.  “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multiple of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8.

Looking deeper into people’s lives also opens up the door to ministry and sharing the Gospel, as Philippians 2:4 suggests: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too.”

 

We are unique, we are different, but when we are all put together, we’re beautiful because of Christ! That “green stem” is Jesus.  As a body, we have in common the forgiveness he offers us and the ability to live for him, bringing him glory.  What a humbling honor!  That the God who knows my name calls me to be his own: “…he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself.  And having given them right standing (righteousness), he gave them his glory!” (Romans 8:30)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Now go pick some flowers!
The Bouquet of God and His People

My Personal Babel and Making Much of Me

My Personal Babel and Making Much of Me

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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I’m pretty sure I would have been the one to lay the cornerstone for the Tower of Babel.

My Personal Tower of Babel

I didn’t always think this. In my blind pride, I used to read the story in Genesis 11 and think, “Good night moon! These people are really thickheaded!”

But here’s how I know I could have been the one to place that stone; I have thought to myself what they said out loud at Babel,

“…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4, NIV)

I confess, I have wanted to make a name for myself.

I have craved all the glory for a job well done.

I have thirsted for all the recognition for doing “good” deeds.

I have hungered, above all else, for the love and approval of people.

Though these are broad examples, you can probably imagine some specific ways these general desires might manifest in my life or maybe even in yours.

The truth is, all of the craving and thirsting and hungering leaves me empty no matter how much I receive. And leaves me in shambles when receive none. This name for myself is a dangling carrot that is never caught, and like an addiction, always leaves me grasping for more. More glory, more approval, more…

It never satisfies.

It is exhausting.

But I know that an exhausted, unsatisfied, shamble of a life is not what Jesus means for any of us. He says he “came that they may have life, and hive it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

Jesus says there is more.

That more is this truth:

I was not created to have a Name.I was not created to have a Name.

In vain, I have searched the scriptures trying to find justification of building myself a tower; for making myself a name. It isn’t there.

But, I did find a Name. It just wasn’t mine.

“My name will be great among he nations from where the sun rises to where it sets… my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 1:11, NIV)

I found God’s name.

He says His name WILL be great.

One example in particular struck me hard. Jesus calls for God the Father’s name to be glorified.

Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28, NIV)

I claim to be a follower of Jesus. What have I not been following Jesus in this? I’m struck with this discrepancy in my Christianity. The truth is that I have been so occupied elevating my name, that I lost sight of the only Name that is worthy elevation.

Searching the scripture, I found that everything I am and everything I do is actually for the glory of God’s name, not my own.

I am created for the glory of His Name.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

Not that the task of elevating His name is mine to bear with my deeds or my life. Oh no, God is not depending on my performance to make His name great. What trouble He would be in if He were to depend on me with my false tower of Babel building and other missteps!

It is freeing to worship a God who is so powerful, He needs nothing from me. He needs nothing from me, yet He offers me a place to work by His side. He is a God who gives and has no need to take.

Now that is One whose Name is worthy of glory. Not mine.

So, I have come to the point where I am earnest about tearing down the idol I’m pointlessly trying to build of making a name for myself. I’ve been asking God to change me. To crumble my personal Tower of Babel. And because He gives, God is changing my heart to not just want, but to actually crave to place God and His Name in the rightful place: glorified above all else. And I am enjoying the freedom that comes from it. 

John the Baptist is an inspiring example of one who did not seek to make a name for himself. Ironically, he did in a way have a name for himself. People came to him to be baptized and forgiven of their sins. He actually had his own disciples!

Then Jesus comes on the scene.

When people around John see that those who were his disciples are leaving to become followers of Jesus, they say, “…-look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26, NIV)

John replies, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him… He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30, NIV)

Now, instead of thinking what those at the Tower of Babel said aloud, “…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” I think I need to start thinking what John the Baptist said aloud.

“He must become more, I must become less.”

I’m trying to filter my actions and thoughts through this one question: How can I make more of Him and His Kingdom and less of me in this situation?

I am Free

With this in the front of my mind, I am free in Christ to serve Him.  Free from the weight of bearing a name that I can never obtain because I was not created to bear a name. I can just be me.

I am free to be nothing because He is everything.

I am free to fail because He has already succeeded.

I am free to be rejected because He accepts me.

I am free to be me, when I recognize God for Him: Glorious.

I am realizing that this is where my cravings, thirst, and hunger for a name will be satisfied. It’s not in trying to fit into a role I was not created for. Much like pants that are too tight, I’ve been uncomfortable in my misplaced striving to make a name for myself. But in starting to live to make much of Christ who loves me and you more than His own life, I feel as though I’m slipping into my favorite jeans. It fits well.

Cravings are ceasing.

Thirst is quenching

Hunger is fleeing.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV)

Jesus, I come to You and I place Your Name high.

Ah, satisfaction.

In what ways do you make a name for yourself over making much of Christ?

If you can’t think of any, ask the Lord to reveal to you if you are missing anything. I am asking Him that too.

 

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